The Task Force entrusted with COVID-19 control proposed to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to reopen airports for foreign tourists from 1 August as the country is gradually returning to normalcy.
The COVID-19 Prevention Task Force Committee met with the President on Tuesday at the Presidential Secretariat to discuss ways and means to revive the tourism industry which has suffered a major setback due to the coronavirus outbreak.
President highlighted the necessity of following health guidelines issued by international and local health experts in the event of opening the country for tourists. There is a possibility to be at the forefront of tourism revival provided a well-planned strategy is in place. Future steps should be taken under the guidance of tourism and health professionals on a priority basis, President said.
Under the first phase, it was decided to open hotels and restaurants registered under the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) for in house dining. Based on its progress steps will be taken to gradually open unregistered eateries under the assistance and supervision of the Army and Public Health Officers. President advised relevant officials to set up Tourists Police units comprising those who are fluent in foreign languages giving priority to popular tourist destinations.
“In order to attract tourists, it is necessary to have a proper understanding of their preferences. Some prefer the beach while some enjoy seeing archaeological sites and wildlife. Some tourists are interested in scenic beauty. Tourist promotion activities should be planned accordingly”, President added.
Minister of Health Pavithra Wanniarachchi, Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation Prasanna Ranatunga, Secretary to the President P.B. Jayasundera and members of the Presidential Task Force for control of COVID-19 Outbreak attended the meeting.